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Building the business case for B2B marketing automation.



As advisors to our clients, we are often able to identify trends in what the B2B marketing community is looking for or thinking about. We often find ourselves as the conduit between marketers and their technology – for evaluation, implementation or maintenance. As a result, we’ve been able to develop an acute capability of suggesting the right platform with a view on hidden costs, predictable roadblocks and a methodology driven around change management to support digital transformation.

To help you reinforce the ‘why’: Three reasons you should automate your marketing

Great B2B marketers are known for their lavish budgets, a willingness to spend, and on our part, we work with CMOs to ensure these spends are considered and measured accurately. However, on the occasion where a budget might be slim, we support marketing leaders as they work towards a case for loosened purse strings.

Recently, to supplement this service, we decided to speak to a selection of CMOs at varying stages of their automation journey to get our finger closer to the pulse of the automated marketer and how they got there – here are some of our findings:

CMOs had varied leading drivers behind justifying automation investment

More than half of the interviewed CMOs had lead generation as a key driver behind justifying automation. This is reflective of the fact that a number of B2B organisations remain ‘sales heavy’, particularly in industries such as technology, professional services and manufacturing. Logically, then, a reliable automation platform backed by good strategy in order to push through improved leads at a higher volume will be the key business case driver.

Other marketers look to automation to improve efficiency -– managing more campaigns in a year, communicating a broader event calendar or more regular client communications. Of the surveyed CMOs, those at multinational corporations shared mixed results – with some being guided by their global counterparts, whilst others were leading their global automation programs – positive indication that Australian marketers can certainly be pacesetters.

Some of our other research into justifying marketing investment: Uncovering the RoI from Sales & Marketing Alignment

The business case versus the big dream

Another key consideration when building your business case is managing the expectations of your stakeholders. When asked about the impact on customer experience and engagement, 30% of surveyed CMOs shared that it was too early in their automation journey to expect significant results in these areas. Providing context, achievable milestones and celebrating milestones with stakeholders and the wider business become integral in building a business case and delivering on the outcome.

Metrics that were flagged as key factors when making a case for automation included response times, growth in content downloads and increased inbound enquiries. The CMOs we spoke to are also leveraging other research, such as brand study, to establish benchmarks that they can measure against in six or twelve month intervals. One CMO even shared that their initial automation setup was too elaborate – and doomed to fail under an avalanche of expectations – a lesson learnt the hard way.

Case study: Korn Ferry’s journey to 5:1 RoI on Marketing Automation

The human component

Human resistance to change is the antithesis of the modern marketing professional – but with Scott Brinker’s landscape of over 7,000 marketing technology platforms, it’s not uncommon to face some resistance within the marketing function, as well as elsewhere in your organisation such as the IT department, to whom automation is just another piece of technology they might feel answerable for. As such, the business case needs to be broad enough to support the objectives of the wider business.

We’ve run training programs for clients where teams of 20 or more have become aligned around their objectives for marketing automation and formed a community where they share learning across sub-divisions and state lines. This collective evolution of a herd of modern marketers can be an attractive proposition for organisations where training is an integral component of corporate culture.

More about the modern marketing function: Four ways modern marketing teams are transforming

All said and done, sometimes it’s useful to take a step back and ask yourself – are you ready for this change? Do you have the content library to leverage into building out nurture programs? Do you have the infrastructure that will make the transition easy – such as a CRM that’s “integration-friendly”? What is the state of your data?

Marketing Automation isn’t going anywhere, and getting your foundation in place before taking the leap could be the most powerful start to making the case for investment. We’re currently preparing our findings in more detail – watch this space!

Until then, if you have any questions about marketing automation, let us know!


Tushar Warrier

Over the past 15 years, Tushar has worked with B2B and B2C brands across the Asia Pacific region, particularly in Singapore, India and Australia. He prioritises problem-solving and has worn many hats across his career – the latest being a Green one. At Green Hat, he works with our clients as Head of Marketing and Growth, as well as a part of the Account Service team.